Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Voice ... what do they have in common? Voice search of course. I'm sure you've said the phrase "Hey Siri; what's the weather today" in the past. Voice search is rapidly becoming a core part of our everyday life. Once an amusing quirk (that rarely understood you), now they're more capable of interpreting our natural language. Numbers show people are becoming more willing to use voice search, now ranking as the third most popular method. Google has now added 30 new languages to Voice Search meaning the total number of languages supported is now at 119
In 2016, Google reported that 20% of queries came from voice search, meanwhile others are predicting voice search will rise to 50%
So what does this mean for search queries then? Well, for a voice assistant to answer a question, they use conversational search queries (or natural language) which means you get an answer in a natural, conversational style.
Conversational searches usually adhere to 5 types of questions, the 5 W's: Who; What; When; Where; Why and How. These are otherwise known as question words. Hence the focus on queries has shifted from keywords to key phrases. This is where your search queries come into play; you need to ask yourself "What questions is my content answering".
As people shift toward key phrases, it's important that you phrase your content in a way that is able to answer a question. If you're providing instructions - use numbers or bullet points. If you're answering a question - stay relevant, use short and concise phrasing that makes it clear you're answering a question
To ensure your content is optimised correctly for voice search, take these 3 tips into consideration.
Tip 1 - Questions in Search Queries
Depending on how you phrase your search, you may be presented with a preview of the top ranking webpage, with the remaining search results appearing below that. This appears because it is the content that is most relevant to the way the question (search query) has been phrased. This is where it's particularly important not to forget the 5 W's mentioned above.
To ensure you're appearing in this preview, research a list of FAQ's relating to your product or business then optimise your content to answer natural language queries. See an example below
Tip 2 - Local SEO
Another tip to being voice search friendly is to be local-friendly and a great tool to assist with this is Google My Business. Remember if someone is driving, for example, and asking their voice assistant for directions, it won't be able to crawl an image for this information however it will be able to use correctly optimised content being your business name, physical address and phone number. Don’t forget approximately 50% of people use voice search for navigation - a huge number of potential searches you could be missing.
Tip 3 - Networks
Voice Assistants are built to do a certain set of commands eg Siri can send a message, dial a number or post a tweet. But when it comes to search queries they are not encyclopedias. They instead search the web for these answers. So they can present you with the best content, there is certain network they will use. For example, to present information about a restaurant the voice assistant may decide to get information from Yelp. It’s important that you put yourself on these websites too to ensure best visibility
The best way for you to work out what changes you should be making is to do exactly what a customer would do - Get out your voice assistant and search for information relating to your business as if you were a customer. Don't just focus on yourselves though, include some broad searches too so you can see what your competitors are doing. This will give you a better idea of whether you are phrasing your content correctly.
Voice search is certainly not new, but it is definitely overlooked. Over 60% of people use voice search for online search. By optimising your site and content, you are already a step ahead of your competitors who underestimate voice assistants. Adapting your site for voice search should be a part of your ongoing SEO strategy. Head over to this blog post where we are letting you in on 8 great SEO tips! Google has also said they will be including Voice Search into Google Analytics to show what the specific queries were, but have not given a date.
SEO is fast paced and rapidly evolving but is not something to hesitate about. DCODE GROUP has helped several clients to optimise their sites correctly for SEO to achieve better rankings and we can assist with assessing your site for voice search. If you're looking to get started with optimising your site correctly, let's talk further about where you're at currently and what you can do to improve.
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